By James Manktelow and the Mind Tools Team
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USP Analysis

The Unique Selling Proposition: Finding Your "Competitive Edge"

What is YOUR unique selling proposition?

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For years, business trainers have stressed the importance of "USPs" (Unique Selling Propositions).

Your USP is the unique thing that you can offer that your competitors can't. It's your "Competitive Edge." It's the reason why customers buy from you, and you alone.

USPs have helped many companies succeed. And they can help you too when you're marketing yourself (when seeking a promotion, finding a new job, or just making sure that you get the recognition you deserve.) If you don't have a USP, you're condemned to a struggle for survival – that way lies hard work and little reward.

However, USPs are often extremely difficult to find. And as soon as one company establishes a successful USP in a market, competitors rush to copy it.

In this article, we'll explore how you can use USP Analysis to help you find your USP, and to think about how you'll defend it.

How to Use the Tool

Download our free worksheet to record your analysis, and then follow these four steps:

1. Understand the Characteristics That Customers Value

First, brainstorm what customers value about your product or services, and about those of your competitors. Move beyond the basics that are common to all suppliers in the industry, and look at the criteria that customers use to decide which product or service to buy.

As with all brainstorming, by involving knowledgeable people in the process, you'll improve the range of characteristics you'll identify. So talk to salespeople, customer service teams and, most importantly, to customers themselves.

2. Rank Yourself and Your Competitors by These Criteria

Now, identify your top competitors. Being as objective as you can, score yourself and each of your competitors out of 10 for each characteristic. Where possible, base your scores on objective data. Where this isn't possible, do your best to see things from a customer's perspective and then make your best guess.

3. Identify Where You Rank Well

Plot these points on a graph. This helps you spot...

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